Query: wedding invitations for reception only

Dear EtiKate
I would like to invite a number of guests to my wedding reception only, and not the ceremony itself. Is this okay, and what is the most polite way to write the invitation?


Clip from Beyoncé’s ‘Best Thing I Never Had’

Dear BeATrix and Readers

It’s becoming more popular to invite selected guests to the reception but not to the ceremony. It’s your big day, and you can do whatever pleases you, within reason.

You do not need to give a reason for not including guests at the ceremony. However, if your reason is to keep the ceremony private, (close friends and family only), it’s best to let guests know. You can write the invitation thus (posit that the bride and groom sending the invitation, and not the parents):

Mr Santos and Miss Dawlish are delighted to announce that they will be married at a private ceremony at Duneagle Court. We request the pleasure of your company at the wedding breakfast followed by dancing at The Grand Ballroom on 15th October 2014 at 3 o’clock.

Clip from Beyoncé's Best Thing I Never Had

Clip from Beyoncé’s ‘Best Thing I Never Had’

If there is limited space at the ceremony or at the wedding breakfast, you may wish to invite people to the after party only. You can word your invitation this way:

Mr See and Miss Webb invite you to a cocktail reception in celebration of their marriage
Shell Cottage
7th November 2014, 8 PM

A very formal invitation. www.invitationsbyajalon.com

A very formal invitation. invitationsbyajalon.com

The more formal the occasion, the more formal the invitation and wording should be. Printers have scores of sample invitations to choose from. Do mention what you expect guests to wear to the reception. I have previously written a piece about what to include in an invitation. Remember though, you cannot strictly stop people from going into a church and attending a wedding ceremony, but polite individuals will respect your wishes.

My very best wishes,

Do read my previous post on the Rules of Engagement which is a guide for all things engagement related.

We will be delighted to answer all your etiquette-related questions. Send your queries, worries and dilemmas on our Ask Dear EtiKate section. Alternatively, you can get in touch via Facebook or Twitter.


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